One quarter of the season has come and gone and what started very promising has turned into a nightmare for the San Francisco 49ers. The way they played the night of the opener was surprising even to the most loyal of fans. This team was supposed to be atrocious but they came out and performed really well; the running game was hitting on all cylinders and Kaepernick made enough plays and good decisions to propel his team to a victory. The defense, even with all the losses, was able to put constant pressure on Bridgewater and kept Adrian Peterson in check. Things looked good and it seemed that they quieted some of the critics – this was going to be a great underdog story.
Then came the loss at Pittsburgh, but even then there was optimism; Kaepernick played well and the feeling was that the loss could be used as a learning experience for this young team. Things only got worse from there, they followed up with a loss to their division opponent, the Arizona Cardinals. This game was the worst game in Kaepernick’s career. He threw four interceptions and the first two were taken to the house and put his team in a 14-0 hole that they were not able to dig themselves out of. To make it worse, the defense gave up 33 points to the Cardinal offense.
Week four rolls around and the Packers are in town, the thought was that there was no way this team could play any worse. Kaepernick is Greenbay’s kryptonite. The Niners had been 4-0 against the Packers including two playoff games, one which was played at Lambeau field. Well, this week the defense showed up but again Kaepernick was just horrible. He missed open receivers, threw passes out of bounds way above the reach of Boldin and Smith. Then came the booing, and some even started asking for Blaine Gabbert. Yes, this is how bad things have gotten in San Francisco, people are asking to bench Kaepernick for Blaine Gabbert.
To you long time 49er fans, those of you who were fans before the Jim Harbaugh era, this may seem very familiar. Remember the chants for David Carr in favor of benching Alex Smith. So the question is, who is to blame? Who do the fans hold accountable for the demise of a team who not long ago appeared in three straight NFC championship games and who were five yards away from winning the franchises sixth Super Bowl title? Jed York said that he should be held accountable if this team wasn’t winning championships after he and Trent Baalke decided that they would both be better off without Harbaugh.
Guess what, he should be accountable and so should Trent Baalke – yes, they are not the ones calling the plays or the ones making the mistakes on the field, but they are the ones who created this mess by firing one of the most successful head coaches in this franchise’s history. And why did they fire him? Because of personality conflicts and egos. Why should Baalke be held accountable? Because he has dropped the ball in terms of drafting and bringing in players that make an impact. The entire 2012 draft class for the 49ers is no longer with the team – they are completely gone. He has drafted some impact players, but out of 24 drafted players there are only 4 that are starting as of now. When Evan Mathis and Jake Long were available he should have at least tried to bring in one of them for a tryout, knowing full well that the offensive line was a mess.
Was the hiring of Jim Tomsula a mistake? In all honesty, it is way too early to tell with only four games into the season. But he was clearly York’s and Baalke’s choice, and he deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt. But he, along with Kaepernick, have been put in a position to fail. Now the offensive line aren’t the only ones to blame, Kaepernick has made some ill-advised throws and there are times where he has had the time needed and he still doesn’t deliver the ball the way he should. He looks lost and after watching some tape, his footwork is off, he’s throwing off his back foot, and he is also rushing throws. Even though Tomsula says he doesn’t think Kaepernick’s confidence is shaken and that his confidence in his quarterback isn’t shaken, how long does he let this go on if Kaep continues to regress?
It is a very tough and sad situation in San Francisco and pretty soon York will be seeing his Levi’s stadium empty. Only the true faithful will stay loyal and stick with the team like they did through the Erikson, Nolan and Singletary years. But when does it become enough? If the bleeding continues, who will be the scapegoat this time? Kaepernick? Tomsula? The coaching staff? Let’s be realistic, York isn’t going anywhere, but honestly one seat that should be getting hotter by the minute should be the one of Trent Baalke. For now, all that can be said is that this team is lost and in desperate need of a spark. We shall wait and see if the bright lights of Sunday night football and the fact that they are with their backs against the wall will do it for them.